2023 Inaugural Conference: Contributors Reading

Josette Akresh-Gonzales is the author of Apocalypse on the Linoleum (Lily Poetry Review Press). Her work has been published in The Southern Review, The Indianapolis Review, JAMA, The Pinch, The Journal, Breakwater Review, PANK, and many other journals. A recent poem has been included in the anthology Choice Words (Haymarket). She co-founded the journal Clarion and was its editor for two years. Josette lives in the Boston area with her husband and two boys and rides her bike to work at a nonprofit medical publisher. Website: josettepoet.com. Tweets @Vivakresh.

Elliott batTzedek holds an MFA in Poetry and Poetry in Translation from Drew University. She received the Robert Bly translation prize for Dance of the Lunatic by Israeli poet Shez. She leads Fringes: a feminist, non-zionist havurah, which is a liturgy lab for communities across the U.S. Her poems and translations have appeared in: American Poetry Review, Massachusetts Review, Sakura Review, Lilith, Naugatuck River Review, Poetica, Split This Rock, and the anthologies Beside Still Waters (Bayit), and Who by Plague (Hamotzi Press). Her chapbook the enkindled coal of my tongue was published by Wicked Banshee Press. She is a bookseller by trade and passion.

Robin Rosen Chang is the author of the full-length collection, The Curator’s Notes (Terrapin Books, 2021). Her work has been recognized with a 2023 Fellowship from the New Jersey Council on the Arts, an honorable mention for the Spoon River Review’s 2019 Editor’s Prize, and the Oregon Poetry Association’s Fall 2018 Poet’s Choice Award, and has appeared in Michigan Quarterly ReviewThe Journal, Verse Daily, The Cortland Review, and elsewhere. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. She lives in New Jersey and teaches writing at Montclair State University.

Amy Eisner teaches creative writing at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), helping undergraduates develop as poets and MFA students integrate writing into their art practices.  She has also taught creative writing at Johns Hopkins and CTY and served as a poet-in-residence for Baltimore City and the Maryland State Arts Council. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College and received a Coleman Fellowship upon completing her MA in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins. Her poems have appeared in Fence, The Journal, Nimrod, Reed, Sugar House Review, Washington Square, and other journals, as well as a few galleries.

Mark Elber was born and raised in Queens, New York City to Holocaust survivors and grew up hearing Polish, Yiddish, German, Russian, and English spoken at home. Rather than following his father’s and brother’s path into the medical profession, Mark pursued philosophy, Jewish mysticism, poetry, and music. He studied philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, Kabbalah at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and years later received his MFA from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. In the intervening years, Mark was involved with forming two rock bands, songwriting, and becoming a rabbi. He is the author of The Everything Kabbalah Book and The Sacred Now: Cultivating Jewish Spiritual Consciousness. Mark lives with his wife, Shoshana Brown, and their son, Lev, in Fall River, MA, where Mark and Shoshana are the rabbi and cantor at Temple Beth El.

Caleb Horowitz is a North Carolinian poet, academic, and teacher. His poetry is forthcoming in Verklempt! Horowitz writes in the fields of literary, Jewish, and pop culture studies. His publications include “Far from the Last Airbender: Cultural Trauma Construction and Diasporic Reimaginings in Avatar and Korra” in A Scholarly Companion to the Avatar Franchise: Storytelling, Identity, Trauma, and Fandom and “Mandalorian Midrash: Space Jews and Ancient Exegetical Analysis in Star Wars’s The Mandalorian” in Jews in Popular Science Fiction: Marginalized in the Mainstream. He has also written “As a Patrilineal Jew, I See Myself in the Golem” for Hey Alma.

Yeva Johnson is the author of the chapbook, Analog Poet Blues (2023).  Johnson, a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet and musician whose work appears in Bellingham Review, Obsidian, Sinister Wisdom, Yemassee, and elsewhere, explores interlocking caste systems and possibilities for human co-existence in our biosphere. Yeva is a past Show Us Your Spines Artist-in-Residence (RADAR Productions/San Francisco Public Library) and Marion Weber Healing Arts Fellow at Mesa Refuge. She is a Brown Handler Writer’s Resident and poet in QTPOC4SHO, a San Francisco Bay Area artists’ collective. Yeva is currently working on a full-length manuscript of poems.

Caroline Kessler is a poet, writer, and facilitator based in Berkeley, CA. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Washington University in St. Louis and a BA in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University. Her poetry and prose have been published in The McNeese Review, Superstition Review, Rivet, Susquehanna Review, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, Ritual in Blue, was published by Sutra Press. She is also the co-founder of The 18 Somethings Project, a virtual writing adventure; co-creator of Index/Fist, a women-led collective that publishes handmade magazines; and co-founder of Ashreinu, a Jewish spiritual community in St. Louis.

Stacy Lawson is a writer, a seeker, a therapeutic yoga instructor, a creativity coach, a visual artist, an activist. In her early days she taught writing, adult basic education, and ESL in community colleges and literacy centers. Her work has appeared in Under the Sun, r.kv.r.y quarterly literary journal, Raven Chronicles, The 34th Parallel, Blue Lyra Review, Kveller. Stacy lives in Seattle with her husband and canine assistant, Juneau.

Harriet Levin is the author of three poetry collections, The Christmas Show, chosen by Eavan Boland for the Barnard New Women Poets Prize and winner of the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay di Castagnola Award; Girl in Cap and Gown, a National Poetry Series finalist; and My Oceanography. She is also the author of a novel, How Fast Can You Run. Recent poems appear in Narrative Magazine, Solstice, Diode, and Notre Dame Review. She teaches at Drexel University where she is a 2022-23 Stein Family Fellow for travel and research in Israel.

Sarah Sassoon is an Australian, Iraqi Jewish, award winning writer, educator and poet. Her debut picture book Shoham’s Bangle was named a Sydney Taylor Notable and listed as one of Tablet Magazine’s best children’s books of 2022. Her poetry micro-chapbook, This is Why We Don’t Look Back was awarded first place in Harbor Review’s Jewish Women’s poetry. Her writing has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Lilith, Mother Egg Review and elsewhere. Her forthcoming  picture books are This is Not a Cholent (Kar-Ben Publishing) and There’s an Oud in the Orchestra (Beaming Books), 2024.

Ronnie Scharfman is Prof. Emerita of French and Francophone Literature at Purchase College, SUNY.  A lifelong Jewish learner, she has been writing midrash and poetry for 25 years, in workshops with Alicia Ostriker and Sharon Dolin. She has self-published a chpabook, “In Poem & Prayer,” in 2013. Her poems have appeared in The Jewish Women’s Literary Annual and Opposed to Indifference.

Robin Silbergleid is the author of the poetry collection The Baby Book (CavanKerry Press, 2015) and the memoir Texas Girl (Demeter Press, 2014), and several chapbooks; she is also co-editor of Reading and Writing Experimental Texts: Critical Innovations (Palgrave, 2017) and the anthology Infertilities, A Curation, which is forthcoming in fall 2023 from Wayne State University Press. Her work-in-progress, The Old Country, explores her family’s immigration from the place they called Russia (now Ukraine) at the turn of the twentieth century. She is Professor of English at Michigan State University.

Donna Spruijt-Metz is a poet, emeritus psychology professor, and MacDowell Fellow. Her first career was as a classical flutist. She translates Dutch poetry. Her work appears in Copper Nickel, RHINO, Poetry Northwest, the Tahoma Literary Review, and elsewhere. Her chapbooks are ‘Slippery Surfaces’ (Finishing Line Press) and ‘And Haunt the World’ (with Flower Conroy, Ghost City Press). Camille Dungy chose her first full length ‘General Release from the Beginning of the World’ (2023, Free Verse Editions) as one of the 14 Recommended Poetry Collections for Winter 2022-23. Her forthcoming microchapbook ‘Dear Ghost’ won the Editor’s prize (Harbor Review Press).

Dick Westheimer has – in the company of his wife and writing companion Debbie – lived, gardened and raised five children on their plot of land in rural southwest Ohio. Dick has enjoyed picking bluegrass music with his neighbors and running the trails on his and neighboring farms. He is a Rattle Poetry Prize finalist and his most recent poems have appeared in Whale Road Review, Minyan, Rattle, Paterson Review, One Art, Gyroscope Review, and Cutthroat. His chapbook, A Sword in Both Hands, a collection of poems prompted by Russia’s War on Ukraine, is published by Sheila Na Gig Editions.